The book cover suggested that we read the book before we watch the movie and being the person that I am, I did just that. This book was sent to me as an event win last year but it was only now that I lay my hands on it. Before I
began, I read the blurb of the book and frankly, did not get an idea as to what I was getting into. Certainly not the genre I would pick up in a bookstore if it were for me. However, once I got to it I was pleasantly surprised. Meticulously attended to, carefully drafted and very well written, for a debut this is a total win. Nicola Yoon seems to have worked really hard on this book. It is pacy, mild but heart-touching.
The book is a story of a seventeen-year-old girl, Madeline /Maddy, who is allergic to the world, or so it seems. Truth is that she is suffering from SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency)also known as ‘bubble baby disease’ that does not allow her to step out of her house. Therefore, as long as she can remember, the girl has NEVER been out in the world. Her only window to the world is the Internet and perhaps the glass window of her bedroom. And so the book reads like a diary of sorts for Maddie at the beginning where she is trying to explain what her life is like.
The story picks pace when Ollie comes with his family to stay in the neighbourhood. His bedroom window is right opposite Maddie’s and they somehow begin their conversations through text messages and e-mails. The youngsters find mutual admiration in the mystery and magic they both bring in each others’ lives. With the help of Carla, the nurse, Maddie is able to meet Ollie in person but that does not go down too well because Maddie gets ill and Carla is blamed for it and fired. Maddie is grounded by her mother. With no phone and no internet, the circumstances push her to flee from home. What happens next forms the rest of the story which takes some unexpected turns.
On the surface, it is a teenage romance (which actually it is) but it manages to evoke some underlying messages about human existence and how love (even if it’s not sexual) drives us through it. How a person must live to experience life. The characters are real and endearing, especially Ollie whose earnestness and empathy comes through. With a unique and unconventional narration, this one reads comfortably. I actually managed to finish the book in just 2-3 hours. The story touches the hopes, dreams and experiences of a teenager without it being over the top or overly dramatic. And this is where this one took my heart away. It is a story that would appeal to any age.
Grab it here: